What it's like
An impressive landscape and enormous scope for great walks help to make Hampshire one of the south’s most popular counties. From its northern tip to where it meets the sea, Hampshire boasts an excellent variety of scenery, including scenic coastline, unspoilt villages, rolling farmland and meandering river valleys. There are also plenty of superb long-distance trails that reach to the heart of the county. The Test Way and the Wayfarers Walk, both running north to south, explore the best of Hampshire, while the Solent Way runs along the county’s well-defended coastline. En route is Southampton Water, Britain’s gateway to the world, and a walk along the banks of this historic waterway offers grand views of passenger liners and Isle of Wight ferries. For 500 years it was synonymous with shipbuilding and the glamorous age of ocean-going travel. For the less adventurous, there are easy, undemanding strolls through William the Conqueror’s glorious New Forest, the jewel in Hampshire’s crown. In fact, much of the county is wooded. Within its boundaries lie the remains of the ancient Forest of Bere, while the Alice Holt Forest and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park offer many attractions for walkers and cyclists. The undulating south-east corner of the county is also a haven for the hiker and more modest stroller. Around the town of Petersfield the countryside is known as ‘Little Switzerland’. This mix of spectacular beech hangers and steeply rising downland greatly inspired the Edwardian poet Edward Thomas who would often roam the area on foot between dawn and dusk.
- The North Hampshire Hills This lofty ridge forms the county boundary with Berkshire and offers scores of scenic walks that are tailor-made for half a day. With stunning views in all directions, follow the Wayfarers Walk east towards much-loved Watership Down.
- Lepe Superb views of the Solent and pockets of peaceful, secret woodland at the mouth of the Beaulieu River form the backdrop to this picturesque coast and countryside walk, starting at Lepe Country Park.
- Odiham At the heart of Hampshire lies the one remaining stretch of a forgotten inland waterway. Follow the towpath of the 18th-century Basingstoke Canal and discover the ghostly ruins of King John’s Castle, built in 1215.
Must see and do
- Off-road at Beaulieu Discover the world of the motor car in its heyday at Beaulieu’s renowned National Motor Museum in the New Forest before taking a stroll through the surrounding woodland
- Discover Britain’s island city Portsmouth’s dazzling new waterfront and its many historic landmarks, including the world-famous Naval Dockyard, make the city an essential destination
- Selborne This was the home of the 18th-century naturalist Gilbert White and after a visit to The Wakes, White’s former home, follow in his footsteps, savouring the peace and solitude of this special region.
Destination County : Hampshire